Virus case found 200km from NZ outbreak
A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed outside of Auckland where the coronavirus re-emerged in New Zealand, and there are up to six probable cases, according to local reports.
The Ministry of Health on Thursday confirmed 14 new cases including one returned overseas traveller in managed isolation and 13 linked to four family members who tested positive in Auckland earlier this week "from an unknown source".
The new cases brought the number of active cases to 36 - 17 of which are linked to the recent outbreak, the ministry said in a statement.
"Given that all these cases are linked, we are treating them as a cluster and what we know about clusters, as we have found out in the past, is that they do continue to grow," Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday.
"So we fully expect there will be further cases. There are some symptomatic people - of course they have been tested, they are in isolation and all appropriate tests are being taken. We will update you if results come through that confirm those cases, on a daily basis."
Until Tuesday, the country had not recorded a case of local transmission in 102 days.
COLD STORAGE FACILITY CLUSTER GROWS
Among those to test positive in Thursday's figures were three employees from AmeriCold, the workplace of one previously reported case.
The ABC on Friday reported the company's managing director had confirmed two more employees had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases linked to the cold storage facility to six and those linked to the south Auckland family cluster to 19.
"Two of the AmeriCold sites, Mount Wellington and Auckland Airport, have been closed, and all staff from the Airport site have now been tested," the NZ Health Ministry said on Thursday.
"A mobile testing unit went to the homes of symptomatic people from the Mount Wellington site yesterday and further testing is underway."
Officials are investigating the possibility that the virus travelled into New Zealand on refrigerated freight.
Dr Bloomfield said surface testing was under way in an Auckland cold storage facility where a man from the infected family worked.
"We do know from studies overseas, that actually, the virus can survive in some refrigerated environments for quite some time," he said.
China has reported instances of coronavirus being detected on the packaging of imported frozen seafood.
CORONAVIRUS APPEARS SOUTH OF AUCKLAND
South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock has since confirmed to Stuff council was told on Thursday afternoon about a staff member potentially linked to a known Auckland case.
A case has reportedly been confirmed in Tokoroa, a town in the South Waikato district about 200 kilometres south of Auckland on the North Island, and two staff members at Tokoroa Medical Centre are in self-isolation.
"(There is) one confirmed case and one probable case in Tokoroa - this is from an official email," a Waikato District Health Board source told the publication.
However, according to the New Zealand Herald, Ms Shattock has told staff: "Unfortunately we have a confirmed case of Covid in Tokoroa and a probable case plus five others have been tested as some of them are unwell."
"At this stage we have (a doctor) in isolation and the nurse who swabbed the patient plus a council staff member is isolating as well," she said in an email to councillors on Thursday night.
Tokoroa is home to more than 13,600 people.
As of midday on Wednesday, new rules are in place. Auckland returned to stage 3 restrictions, while the rest of the country is at stage 2.
This means people living in Auckland are working from home unless they are an essential services worker. Schools remain open only for students whose parents are essential workers.
Public facilities, bars, restaurants and businesses in Auckland were forced to close, and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. For the rest of the country, mass gatherings are now limited to 100 people.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also urged everyone to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the virus, noting people can fashion their own face covering if needed.
Supermarkets have already moved to immediately restrict the sale of some essential products to ensure demand can be met and prevent stockpiling.
Originally published as Virus case found 200km from NZ outbreak